Laura Katz

The Bold Women of Brescia: Laura Katz Feature

Laura KatzAt the ripe age of 12, Laura Katz had already decided she wanted to be a Food Scientist. Since then, her passion for the complex interplay between food, cooking and science has never dwindled. What has happened is her interest has been shaped – and reshaped – by her unique experiences as a woman, Brescia student and Forbes 30 Under 30 CEO.

While Laura always knew her career would revolve around food, she could not have predicted it would be breastmilk that consumed her focus. However, after years of witnessing the incredible strides being made in meat and dairy alternatives, Laura was shocked to learn there is a Black Market for breastmilk where parents purchase strangers’ supply to sustain and nourish their children.

“My interest in breastmilk began at Brescia. In my ‘Nutrition Throughout the Life Cycle’ course, we learned about pregnancy, early life and the completely unique characteristics of breastmilk and the ways it adapts to baby. I actually emailed one of my Brescia Professors a year ago to let her know her class was the starting inspiration for my company and its vision.”


Puzzled by the status quo approach to breastmilk Laura Katzalternatives and this eyebrow-raising response to demand, Laura decided to take on the task of safely increasing access to the immense nutritional benefits of breastmilk. Her goal was to do this while also mitigating the emotional toll that a complicated relationship with nursing can take on new moms.

Now the CEO and Founder of Helaina, a company that is single-handedly revolutionizing the $50 billion infant formula industry, Laura has never lost sight of the innovative approach to nutrition she was introduced to at Brescia University College.

This proud Brescia alumna certainly walks her talk when it comes to empowering women


Her vision for Helaina – one that sees a future where breastfeeding does not define the health of children or the worth of their parents – is taking the world by storm. By cold calling investors from her kitchen table and selling the dream of greater equity in infant nutrition, Laura has already raised more than $25 million in venture capital. A number that is made doubly exciting by the fact women receive merely 2 per cent of the world’s start-up funding.

If tackling infant nutrition and maternal empowerment wasn’t a tall enough order, Laura and her clinical team also plan to apply their novel concept to enhancing the immune system at every life stage with future products including prenatal and children’s vitamins, nutritional shakes, senior health products and more. 

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When asked about the undeniably feminist positioning of Helaina, Laura was quick to point out the ways women continue to be valued differently than men and what she is doing to change that. “Addressing the equity gap is such an important part of what we are trying to do,” Laura explains. “We want to advance every part of women’s journeys. There is so much expected of moms, and our products aim to empower them, so we can work towards a more equal world. That’s at the core of who we are.”

“The best part of the Helaina office is the pumping room. It’s not a broom closet – it’s a comfortable space, with a fuzzy rug, where working moms feel at ease and supported to balance their many priorities. From childcare subsidies to maternity leave, any way we can make women feel more empowered to take their seat at the opportunity table, we will do it. No matter what we need to help them overcome, we will get women to where they want to be.”  

Beyond providing the spark that ignited her passion for nutrition, it was Brescia’s “female-positive” environment that was critical in shaping Laura’s feminist foundation and her future. Prior to coming to Brescia, Laura underestimated how meaningful an education designed to nurture women’s unique gifts could be. But, getting to engage with students who were eager to uplift and challenge one another to be at their best helped set her up for success and more easily manage the transition from student to thriving entrepreneur.

As someone whose career would revolve around science, Laura also immediately saw the advantages of Brescia’s unique relationship with Western University. She took full advantage of being able to access the wide-ranging academic opportunities presented by one of Canada’s leading research institutions while also getting to recharge within small classrooms where there is a big emphasis on wraparound student support. After graduating with her Western degree and all its distinctive Brescia qualities, she was well prepared to thrive as a business leader who acts with integrity, empathy and a people-first approach to profit.

Brescia is immensely proud of Laura’s achievements. Beyond her phenomenal entrepreneurial success, we are in awe of her ongoing dedication to supporting women and their families. We applaud the ways she seamlessly combines intellectual curiosity with wise and compassionate leadership, and we will be cheering her on in all that she continues to achieve.


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